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Web Client Horror Stories and Lowering Costs

I came across a client horror story on the Clients From Hell site. Even if you don’t do Web design, I’m sure you can easily think of a project where similar things happened to you. I’ve not had the exact scenario described, but I’ve definitely had some Web projects where the clients just didn’t understand that their actions made the project cost more.

Before I share one of my horror stories, I want to also mention the artist described in Gourd Artist Web Site Overhauled Via WordPress did a great job providing photos and text and therefore lowered costs on the Web site redesign.

Now on to a horror story I’m going to share. I’m obviously not going to mention any names or even details on the products this company was planning to promote and sell. A couple wanted to start an online business selling fairly inexpensive products. We met and talked about the various tasks involved in designing a Web site along with the costs.

Setting up the basics of the Web site wouldn’t take much time. The most time consuming part of the site would be adding each of the products into the shopping cart. I asked how the client planned to get good pictures of each product. First, the client claimed they would shoot pictures themselves. They also claimed they could download them off the supplier’s Web site.

Content was provided for an “About Us” page and I built that page. The first question I got was why that page looked great and there was nothing on the home page of the site. Quite simple, nothing had been provided for the home page. I asked if they wanted pictures on the About Us page and I received a photo of the client that was at least ten years old and possibly much older. They also wanted a picture of their cat as an “employee”. The desired picture was the wallpaper on their smartphone, but they had no idea how to get it off the phone and were scared trying to get it off would accidentally delete it. Suffice it to say I never got the cat picture.

Over and over I got questioned why there were no products on the site. I asked the clients for details only to find out they had not yet ordered anything from their suppliers. While they claimed they would take pictures of the products themselves, they didn’t even have the products and expected me to somehow list products without pictures, descriptions or any information at all.

Then they claimed they would download the photos from a vendor’s Web site. I showed them the procedure in person. Find the picture, right-click on the image and select Save Image As from the menu that popped up. This is a common task for even those with very limited computer skills. Another hour (or more) was spent trying to walk them through this procedure over the phone. They never figured it out. Finally they sent a list of products and I added three to the site just so they could see examples.

At that point they decided the project was too expensive and all work was stopped. I tried as hard as I could to keep the costs at a minimum, but this required the client doing some of the work. As they couldn’t do even the most basic tasks, I really question how they would be able to process and fulfill online orders. This was a project that I’m glad is behind me as it was extremely difficult to work with clients who expected me to magically come up with content and were frustrated when they had to pay for me to do things they claimed they could do themselves.

hire-a-professionalNobody can do everything. An an example, I can fix a few minor things around my house. But I’m definitely not a “handyman” and I gladly hire someone who can do it right when I need something fixed or replaced. The same is true of a Web site. If a client can do things like the gourd artist that saves time, great, I’ll gladly work with you. But if the client isn’t capable then they need to hire a professional to do it right. In the long run, it will cost a lot less money!

About Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III
Foster D. Coburn III is the author of thirteen books on CorelDRAW, the latest being CorelDRAW X6 Unleashed. He has been a contributor to numerous magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site and many more, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics and Web conferences.

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